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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  August 10, 2009 7:00am-8:00am EDT

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campaign called "this is new york" which interestingly associates that luxury image with a very kind of utopian -- a utopian kind of diversity that harkens back to the early days of i love new york. i think that juxtaposition of a kind of longing, a utopian longing with this luxury-oriented, elite-oriented comodification makes these campaigns successful and to have people not think so critical about them as i think they should. >> as a sociology professor at u.c. santa cruz why are you writing a book called "branding new york"? well, i recently relocated to santa cruz, not that i wouldn't have been interested in it otherwise but i lived in new york for 20 years before i moved to california. and so -- and over the course of living in new york, i became, you know, very fascinated with
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the sociology of the city, the history of the city. i was myself a media maker, a representation of the city. and i became fascinated with this period which i see is really formative in the contemporary form that i love new york takes and on the one hand, you know, these draconian cutbacks and on the other hand these investments in marketing, the image of the city, at the same time, you know, resources for the livelihood of the city were being taken away. so i think while in new york, that really fascinated me. i've taken that fascination with me to california and tried to convince people? santa cruz the importance of this. i think cities around the country when faced with crisis have a lot of these kinds of
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decisions to make. >> miriam greenberg is the author of branding new york how the city to soldier -- >> the disabled son of ben bradlee and sally quinn discusses the difficulties of being both mentally and physically disabled while growing up among the washington elite. quinn bradlee appears with his mother in sterling, virginia. this event lasts an hour. >> okay, we're going to -- we're going to get started. i thought i would talk a little bit first about my experience as a mother with quinn. and then i'll start asking him questions and then you can get a sense of the family dynamic here.
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quinn's book is called "a different life". and it's a takeoff on my husband's book. my husband is ben bradlee who's the former editor of the "washington post" who wrote a book called "a good life: newspapering and other adventures. when quinn decided to write his book being learning disabled he decided to write "a different life: growing up learning disabled and other adventures" and it really tells the story of quinn growing up starting with when he was born. a lot of that part comes from what we have told him but his reactions to his life as he saw it and his perceptions. quinn was born with a hole in his heart 27 years ago last week. and he went into heart failure when he was a month old. and when he was three months old he had open heart surgery and nearly died.
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and then it just seemed like nothing went right. every time we'd turn around there was something wrong. i mean, he couldn't talk properly. and then -- then he developed epilepsy and then he was learning disabled and had to go to a special school when he was 4. when he was 8 we were told by a doctor that he would basically after testing him that he would have no life at all. that he would never go to high school. that he would never go to college. he would never have a job or a relationship and that she, in fact, enrolled him in an institution. and you can imagine my reaction. i practically fell over in the doctor's office. my husband had to carry me out of the office. i cried for three days and then i got really angry and i thought this can't be true. this can't be possible. they're talking about this magical person who i know to be funny and smart and clever and
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everything else. he may not be able to find his way out of a paper bag but at least he was -- he was a very special person and i didn't believe this. but then he kept getting sick all the time. he would get pneumonia. he was diagnosed with -- he had a partially collapsed lung. he couldn't -- he had a speech problem. you couldn't understand what he said. he had surgery four times on his throat to allow to you speak without being terribly nasal. when he was really little we went into a candy store once and quinn said to the guy at the counter, i'd like such and such and the guy, obviously, couldn't understand him and he said, what is that? quinn said well, i'd like something. and the guy said i'm really sorry and you can see he was
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pained because he wanted to understand quinn. and quinn said, mom, what's his problem? [laughter] >> i mean, he had a healthy sense of himself. he was surrounded by a lot of people who loved him. which helped. he went to the lab school which is a special school for children with learning disabilities until he was -- for actually 12 years. he was the youngest child ever to go to the lab school. he started when he was 4. and when he got to high school he decided he wanted to go away. that he thought that would be the right thing. i, of course, nearly had a nervous breakdown at the idea of sending him away. i felt that he would get a better education. it was important for him to do this and he went away to school for all-boys in buffalo. and then went from there to landmark college, which is the only college in the country for children with learning disabilities, and he spent --
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took a couple of courses at american university and then went to new york film academy and then came back home and lived with us for about a year until we nearly killed each other and so we all agreed -- [laughter] >> we moved him into the house next door to us which we owned and had been renting out and he moved in with a group of roommates, but it has been a real struggle for us and for him over the years to try to deal with these problems. so i thought that just giving you a little of that background i would then talk to quinn about him. it was -- it was i think probably one of the heartbreaking parts of having a learning disabled child is the difficulty in making friends and the sort of interaction between friends. and having to sort of create a life for him and quinn said at
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one point he started -- he started out -- he was going to write the book when he was about 20 and he worked on it for a year with a writer and decided he didn't have enough of a story. and so he went back at it -- my husband was working on a book and decided he didn't want to -- this is last year, and so he told the person he was working with, and i said well, maybe this might be a good time to go back at quinn's book and they worked for four months from january until his birthday last year, the end of april and they produced what i think is a wonderful book and then quinn got the idea to do a website when he was on facebook and found nobody chose him as their favorite friend and he said, i think there should be a website for people like me, for people who are learning disabled. and so he created i thought i would ask quinn some
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questions and i will let you all talk. quinn, what -- what do you think has been the hardest part for you about growing up learning disabled? >> i think one of the hardest parts is growing up with not a whole lot of friends. you know, when you're somebody like me, you go to you go to all these special schools it's hard to make friends because all the friends you make at these boarding schools and colleges -- they all live elsewhere, and it's very difficult to make friends at home 'cause you're never at home. you're always at boarding school and so i always came back home to not a whole lot of big group of friends. and all my friends were my parents' friends. and so i always felt more comfortable around grownups than i did with kids of my own age. >> when did you start feeling comfortable with people your own
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age. >> i think really not until i was about 19 or 20 or so just 'cause -- i had never really known -- i'd always known i was a little different, but i tried to put -- you know, think about other things. >> when did you decide that you were different? when did you understand that you were different? >> i think i've always understood that i was a little different. and if you think about it, everybody is a little different so there's no really -- it's hard to differentiate people theoretically, scientifically, it's very easy to do. but theoretically it's very difficult to do because like i said, everybody is different. everybody has their own sense of problems. >> do you consider yourself normal?
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>> no. but then i also think if you really think of the definition of normalality, you really have to think about it because what is normal? everybody has problems. and if you think about everybody's problems, then there's no such thing as normalality. >> when quinn was 14, he was diagnosed with vsf which is velocardiofacial syndrome and we had no idea that he had this. we were referred to a doctor when somebody add nih saw quinn and heard all the different problems that he had. that the heart surgery, that the voice -- the throat surgery, and
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so we took him to a doctor who had more or less discovered the syndrome and he took one look at quinn and said, he's it got. quinn, how did you feel when you found out that you had vcfs? >> in a way i was very much relieved because now i can -- now i knew why i was acting so different from everybody else. 'cause i always thought everything i did was normal, and i remember as a kid -- and i still do -- i study people walking down the street. guys and girls holding hands, how a group of guys interact with each other 'cause i never really had -- of course, i've had education but you can only go so far in your schooling and your schooling will only last so
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long. your real education is your whole life, and my real education was also working with my father out in the woods, which i was, you know, raised up on since i was 11 years old and i remember at 11 years old just holding an ax in my hands cutting wood. and my dad was my real teacher and educator in the world as well as the woods. >> when i found out and when my husband ben bradlee found out quinn had velocardiofacial syndrome we never heard of it. we were relieved that it gave us the answer why quinn was having these horrible problem. every single month there was something awful that would happen to him. you would think things going all right and he has a heart problem and he has epilepsy and he can't speak properly and all of that and then suddenly something else would come along, wham-o, and
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you'd think, when is this going to stop? so there are 186 different symptoms. >> something like that. >> of vcfs. once we learned what he had and every time something would happen to him we would call the doctor and say, is this part of the syndrome? i mean, severe migraines or whatever else it might be. and so that was -- that was really reassuring. it can be hereditary. and in quinn's case, it was just a mutant gene. it's a partial deletion of chromosome 22. but the idea of having a syndrome has always been difficult for quinn. and when quinn first decided to write this book, and then the book was going to be coming out
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and then do the website, a lot of your friends told you not to do. >> not a lot. there were a couple. one of my friends doesn't really agree with what i'm doing. and i found out from my girlfriend, and she found it from another friend who i went to school so -- and the reason why they say that you can't do this is because -- or shouldn't do it is because they're terrified of people finding out the truth and they're terrified of people figuring out of people realizing and that's why think that's so weird and they'll think of them as, you know, retarded. and the real uneducated people will.
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but the whole reason why i wrote this book and i'm doing this website " is to educate people. i feel i hope vcfs people will be able to say i have vcfs the way people will be able to say i have dyslexia or diabetes or downs syndrome and nobody -- when you say i have downs syndrome, people say, oh, he has downs syndrome. but people have to think and do research for vcfs 'cause even though it was technically discovered back in the '50s, a doctor really -- he was the first one to start doing research and that didn't happen in 1972. so vcfs now is what dyslexia was 30 years ago. people are just now discovering
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it. >> now, how does your syndrome and your learning -- how do your learning disabilities affect you in your everyday life? >> i forget everything all the time. i remember living in new york. i was so excited to move to new york, but i also was scared because i was -- i lose my keys, my wallet. i just left my keys -- i thought i left my keys up in new york and it turned out i didn't leave them up there. i lost them. so when i was in new york, every time i'd leave the apartment that i was staying in, i always made sure of phone, wallet, you know, and keys. and every time. and i'd literally kind of slap myself to make sure i had them there. and i actually got locked in my apartment once. [laughter]
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>> and, you know, was not very fun at all. >> that's hard since it's a really small apartment. >> the apartment was a 600 square feet apartment and i was paying 3500 a month with, you know, splitting with my roommate. it was in soho. it was a great neighborhood but the apartments are not that great. >> but what about your sense of direction in general? >> i have to have a navigation system in my car no matter what kind of car i get. and now it's great 'cause you can buy them for about 50 bucks or so navigation systems. and, you know, i always -- my girlfriend and i tease each other because we always were old w me like everything old-fashioned and i always kind of wished -- i'm always -- i've always loved history and been curious what it was like to grow
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up, you know, 100 years ago or something but there's no way i could have survived because i can't read a map at all. >> well, you have trouble with the months of the year, too. >> yeah, i have trouble with the months of the year. what i've done on my desk is run out the months of the year and have numbered them because i have a hard time -- i can say eight months but i need a visual for them. which is one of the reasons why i got the iphone because it has visual numbers and months. the iphone has a navigation system that's absolutely amazing. >> talk about depression. i mean, you've been -- first of all, you've taken a lot of drugs. you started in ritalin when you were really young and went to
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adderal. >> medicine is fun, i think medicine after you've been taking it for a while can eventually go bad on you. and if you give -- i don't think it's good to give people, you know, so much medication at one time. i got this email from somebody on friendsofquinn saying that their son is a manic depressive and he has dyslexia and he has vcfs, so he was taking like 20 drugs. that his therapist prescribes him to. and he said he just kept on feeling awful and terrible and the drugs weren't helping so he went -- the mother went to the therapist and asked do you know what you're giving to my child? do you know what drugs you're giving to him? she has no idea.j:y
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she had a vague idea but she took him off the drugs and the next day he never felt so much better in his life and he felt like a new person. >> you went through a very bad period when you got on one drug, adderal where you had a difficult time? >> the problem with me and drugs is that i'm literally affected by every side effect i've ever taken. there's one -- adderal did kind of make me very depressed at one point. i even wrote a suicidal note. and i think when people do that, they want attention. and everybody wants attention, but people will sometimes do everything they possibly know how to in their will to get attention.
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>> what about now? you are on antidepressant now. you take afexor. >> i do take it and so far it's been pretty good for me except it's given me a little appetite which i don't really like. the great thing when i was on dexerdrine it made me not have an appetite who i was -- i stayed relatively thin for a while. let's just say i wasn't heavy but the only problem with dexerdrine you have dry mouth all the time. i was always walking around with a bottle of water or chapstick of some kind. you know, it's not fun. when you're interested in girls, it's kind of hard, too. you don't really want to kiss a girl with dry lips.
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>> but you had -- in high school and in college, particularly -- i mean, part of it you didn't have any friends and that made you depressed and then being depressed made it hard to make friends. >> yeah, having a learning disability is kind of like -- it's a cycle, you know, you're depressed about one thing. and you don't know what that thing is, but you have to take this medicine so, therefore, you're depressed about this medicine and so on. and it's just one thing after hoot -- another. you know, antidepressants, i think, a perfect example of an oxymoron because they are supposed to help you make you happy but you gain weight and then you're depressed that you look fat. so i figured you're better off antidepressants than on it.
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>> we had a doctor tell us once that you would have been better off if you would have been born into a farm family and that there wouldn't have been such expectations on you. that being brought up in a family where we're journalists and we have a lot of friends who are well-known and who are well-known journalists and politicians, that put a lot of pressure on you to achieve in a way that you might not have had if you had been brought up in another family, another kind of environment. >> well, that's one of the reasons why i've loved going down to -- i feel very fortunate to have a farm. i've always looked forward to going down there because down there at the farm i can just be whoever i want to be, do whatever i want to do and it's the only place where i can do that without being yelled at by
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her. [laughter] >> but, still, did you feel the pressure of being in our family and our environment and around our friends? >> the family that i come from -- i mean, not very many people know the history of our family, but -- as my grandfather's but it's hard because, you know, some people might see -- i've a little not a whole lot but i wanted to live up to the expectations but at the same time, i'm very fortunate to get the resources that help me to succeed and proceed in life.
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>> what do you -- what do you hope to accomplish with your book and your website? >> i hope -- one of the main things i hope to do is to educate people more than anything. and i feel that if you educate -- education builds self-confidence. and if you have self-confidence, then you educate people. you're not afraid to tell your story. so it goes back and forth. and that's what i really hope to do. >> everybody talks about how honest your book it and how painfully honest it is. how were you able to write with such honesty and so -- and be so open and sort of reveal so much about your own failings and your own problems? >> well, i've always been pretty honest with myself and with
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others which allowed me to know honest with my peers and just random people. you know, going down in the street and telling them -- i mean, i don't do that. but i've always been very honest about my problems in general. and so i figured -- i started writing -- i wanted to write a book 'cause people have always asked me, well, what is vcfs and what does it do? and i used to just say i had dyslexia because people knew what dyslexia was. excuse me, but nobody knew what vcfs was. so i figured, excuse me, if i wrote a book about it, people would just kind of leave me alone for a while and go out and buy the book. and so i would just start to tell people go out and buy the
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book if you want to go about it. >> it was very revealing and i think a lot of people are amazed and impressed that you would be so honest about it. what made you be able to do that? i mean, you must have had some confidence to be able to say, here's what it is. >> i think it's because my parents were actually always very open with me. they never told me, you know, we're a catholic or a protestant. you have to believe in this god and you have to do that and pray at this time and they kind of let me figure out, you know, any god who i could choose or if i could choose a god or not and i do believe -- i believe that there's a force -- i believe there's a god but i believe there's more of a force of nature and there's energy, and
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that energy creates the good and the bad and, you know, we all have -- we all have one thing in common. we all have a heart and a soul and we all need to eat and sleep. and vcfs, dyslexia, rich, poor, white, asian, caucasian, you know, they're labels and we're all people. >> one of the things that's been difficult for you and for me -- and you have portrayed this in your book is that i've been very protective, sometimes overprotective. dad has been much more laid back. that you and i have worked on together -- both quinn and myself have been to a therapist and my husband too. i don't see any family with a
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learning-disabled child could survive without having therapy. i think 50% more people get divorced with children with learning disabilities than people who don't. and one of my biggest issues and concerns is that i want quinn to be independent. on the other hand, he's been sick so much and had so many problems that i really tried to -- i need to take care of him and so it's been a real juggling -- when quinn wrote his book, ben and i did not see a word of it until it was completely finished. and when it was finished, we read it and the only changes we made were just factual error. that was all. i mean, it's his book and his slows -- voice. i frankly wished there hadn't been so many lines like mom was hysterical, mom freaked out, mom
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went crazy. my husband is an old navy man and he was in world war ii and when the japanese would bomb the destroyer -- would come at the destroyer, they would -- you know, they would sound the sirens and everybody would be all hands on deck and the expression is go to general quarters. and it's an expression i hate more than everything else because every time something would happen to quinn, oh, my god we're going to general quarters and quinn picked up on it and we're going to general quarters. but how do you feel about that now, quinn. do you feel that we're making progress in learning to be less dependent on each other and -- >> very slowly we are. [laughter] >> no huge steps. but very slowly and life is -- one of my favorite movies is actually "what about bob." i don't know if you've ever seen it. life is baby steps.
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and you can't go from being homeless to wanting to be a billionaire overnight. you have to figure out how to, you know -- first, i got to clean myself up and get a job and start low and work your way up in life. like i said before, we all have problems, but i think -- because i was held -- i use a metaphor, i've been in my mom's arms for so many years and she's just now -- or, i guess, last year when i moved in to my house next door, she was kind of -- it's kind of like an animal -- i refer to my mother as a lioness. she's kind of releasing her cubs into the wild the first time. and it's hard -- somebody said
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to me, it's hard to see your children go off or your cubs go off into a dark forest, you know, but you have to let them go otherwise they'll end up killing each other the way we almost have done many times. >> do you feel that you are gaining enough independence now that you can take care of yourself? >> yeah, there's still some things that i don't know how to do. for example, i don't really know how to pay my house bills. i don't know how to take care of credit card situations, really. and that's just because i had somebody nurture me my whole life. and when you do that -- and i want to learn how to do those things. there's a difference of not knowing them and not knowing how
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to do those things and having somebody do it your whole life. but i really want to learn how to do those things 'cause even though i joke about my mother always being around forever, they're not. and i'm going to need to learn how to take care of my bills, you know, if there's something that goes wrong, the tv gets broken, how to call the electrician or something like that. >> what do you hope -- well, what advice would you give to parents of learning-disabled children? >> never give up. one of the metaphors i use is that life is a garden and you have to dig it and make it work for you. life is like -- it's like a tree
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and there's so many branches on a tree and i get this from working out. there's so many -- i get this from working out in the woods at our farm. you can see there's this tree that has these huge vines and it's all covered in vines and, you know, you're on the water and it has the view of it and when you clear it and take down the vines, it's one of the most beautiful-looking trees in the world. and we're all -- we're all trees, and some of us have more vines on us than others but you just -- you know, you slowly take down the vines and you get the vines all down, it's going to be one of the most beautiful things you've ever seen. >> what about love? >> well, i had a huge problem with women. >> well, i was actually talking
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about parental love to begin with. [laughter] >> we'll move on to that in a minute. >> okay. i think parental love is the most important thing you can give to your child, more than -- love comes first more than any other kind of technology, more than schooling. it's just the number one goal is to love your child. to love a person. and i think if you love your child, they will succeed. but you also have to listen to your child. obviously, you do need to tell them -- to tell them what to do at certain times you. need to help raise them but you also need to listen to them. >> you want to talk about girls? [laughter] >> since i brought that up, i
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had a huge problem with girls, you know, from my teenage years till now. everything i was doing -- girls would always be really excited to go on dates with me and they'd always want to, but after i'd go out on a date i would never hear back from them. and i would stay up all night thinking what did i do wrong. i would wait for a week or so -- i actually used to be a little bit of a stalker and the only reason why i was a stalker was because i was making sure they were okay that i didn't do anything to upset them. that they liked me, and i just couldn't figure out if i didn't hear back from them, that they probably didn't want to go out with me again. i thought they just lost their phone or something.
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[laughter] >> and then you did therapy for a while and now -- >> i did therapy and also, you know, my whole book i basically talk about how -- all i really want to do is have sex. [laughter] >> but that's never happened to me. and that was a lot of what my book was about was a hard time with women. that i did therapy and now i have a fiance. >> he has a beautiful fiance who we all adore and are thrilled. well, i think what would be nice now is if you read a paragraph or two from your book. >> sure. >> this is just the end of the book. >> in a way if you really think about it, everybody has a learning disability.
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we all have trouble learning something. when you think of learning disabled think of kids having trouble reading but learning disabled literally means that you're having trouble learning and that could be learning about anything. i have very vivid dreams and sometimes i have nightmares about war. fighting on omaha beach for one but the thing about all of those dreams is out of all of them, i survived. i think it's telling me that i'll have conflicts in my life. different hard parts but i'll always manage to get through them. i'll make it through life. no matter how hard i have to fight. and in those dreams, i'm never fighting alone. there are other people in the war who are fighting, too. and so it's telling me you're not the only one who's fighting. there are other people fighting in life. i have my peace, they have theirs.
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i haven't overcome being learning disabled or vcfs. those aren't things that you really overcome. you live with them. but i have come a long way. the best thing you can be in your heart is good. just good. you might feel like an ugly duckling sometimes but that's okay. you don't have to be the best. just have a good heart because you build from that and it goes on. >> thank you. [applause] >> thank you, sally. would you like to take some questions? >> sure. >> does anybody have something that you would like to add? >> when you just really cooperate do it, what did your parents do that made the difference that made you want to do it? not that they forced you to do it but ahead you realize that it's a good thing to do it. what it was? >> they told me to shut up and
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do it. [laughter] [inaudible] >> it works. it gets the job done. >> no it doesn't. >> i think that you have to, you know, ask the child why they don't want to do it. and then you have to take that and try to negotiate with your reason and try to understand their reason. you have to negotiate with their reason and make them understand where you're coming from. but you have to understand your child. you can put two and two together and then i think you can work something out. >> i have a couple of questions. first of all, how is your physical health now? >> well, i have a little friend that i'm trying to get rid of
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here. [laughter] >> you talk about everybody having that. [laughter] >> but my fiance is a yoga teacher, which is how i met her. and she's a nutritionist as well. so we've been eating really kind of greasy food for the last week and since she's met me, she's gained 8 pounds. >> she's really going to be happy to hear that you've said that. this may be the shortest engagement. [laughter] >> and how many of you gained? >> i've gained 10. >> well, they've been celebrating a lot. [laughter] >> yeah. >> your school, what difference did it make for you and how you feel about the lab school, your years in the lab school? >> well, i was there for 12 years. and the lab school -- there were somebody on friendsofquinn who was asking me, my son has vcfs
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but he's at a public school and should i put him in a special school? and i think absolutely. they struggle in normal schools. you get teased. my god mother had to take her son who has fragile x out because he was being called retarded and being bullied and it's just -- you know, it's not fun. but i think after you send your child, if he has special needs, at a special needs school he'll be more accepted. >> bullying is a huge problem. even if you're in a special school. kids often will take out their own emotions and anxieties on each other. when quinn went to boarding school it was all boys and it was very remote and there were
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no girls around. there was a lot of bullying. the whole school has changed now and they have a whole different outlook on that. but people would just go down the hall and hit each other and quick each other and lock each other in their rooms and call each other names and it was awful. i'm an absolute -- i crazed on the subject of bullying because i think there should be a zero-tolerance policy for that in any school, whether you're learning disabled or not. that was a huge problem for quinn because quinn was bullied a lot in school, both in high school -- well, not in college, really, but in high school. >> one of my roommates ended up being the number one turf war on campus. >> and he was a bully and quinn would call me and i would call the headmaster and somebody would be reprimanded and the word would get around that quinn would tattle to his mother and he would get more bullied.
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that's a huge problem and i think parents need to be their child's advocate. they need to stand up for their child. they need to go into school they need to demand that the bullying and the teasing stop and they need to keep at it and get other parents to work with them on that because i think this is one of the worst things. and it destroys the self-confidence of these children. and stays with them for the rest of their life. i mean, happily quinn has overcome that, but it was a very long struggle and a really, really depressing and hard time for both of us, for all of us. >> what advice would you give a 12-year-old boy if you went back a few years right now as to how he should form friendships or whether he should -- >> back a few years in school. >> if you were 12 years old old now, what would you do differently or what recommendations would you give a
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boy with -- >> is he having trouble in school? >> what we see is -- he's at the age where the differences are becoming more and more significant between his peers and his abilities. >> uh-huh. >> and the point on social success or being able to form friendships is becoming increasingly more difficult. >> i would think if he has -- is he close with his family and with cousins or anything like that? >> yeah. >> i would stick with family for now, and i think -- what i've been telling people on my site -- i've gotten questions like that. it's just stick with your family who are your age and cousins and brothers if you have it. if you have a relationship with them. and stick with your close friends. just do anything with them to
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get them -- you know, the last thing you want to do is keep them inside and away from the community. you want them to socialize as much as possible 'cause the more you socialize, whether it's good or bad, it's how we learn and how to communicate with people. >> one of the things we did with quinn is we kind of created a community of friends so that -- i mean, the nightmare of all nightmares for parents of learning disabled children are the birthday parties 'cause they don't get invited to the birthday parties and nobody comes to their birthday parties and so what i would do is i would invite my friends who had kids the same age as quinn, and i would invite all the parents to come to these events and with their children and, you know, i'd have something going onion what, some games so the whole family could get involved and it created sort of an atmosphere
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that -- a sense of community and a sense of family and friends because all of our friends were older and they were kind and loving and understanding and embracing of quinn and their children would then pick up from the parents how they -- how they were treating quinn. so that he did have this close group. i mean, did they play one-on-one? did they ever invite him over to hang out? no. but we had enough events and things that we would plan with other families that there was always a sense that there was a group of people around him. he was never really alone. 'cause he was essentially an only child. my husband had older but they were grown children so quinn was brought up alone. >> what are some of the -- if you get bullied, how do you
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overcome some of the -- >> again, i think you just want to stay with the friends that you have and they'll show you -- there's some mean people out there. i just found out from my fiance's ex who was -- he's a gym worker -- he's a trainer, and he was telling me -- my fiance wanted to know what people were saying about us and there are people that saw an article in the newspaper about our engagement, and they were saying, you know, who is -- why is she with him. isn't he retarded? isn't his face paralyzed and so, you know, there's some mean people out there. excuses my language but my dad said [beep] them.
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you got to ignore them. >> quinn, we're on television. [laughter] >> maybe they can bleep it. no, but even now -- although i think what's happening that's working well is that because he has the book and the website and the book is so genuine and so honest and just heart rendering and the website is so user-friendly for families and children that quinn -- and quinn is so open about his problems that i think people are looking at him and saying, you know -- 'cause he finished the book and launched the website this year, how many 26 years old have published a best-selling book and have a very successful website, not many. and i think people are looking at him and saying, whoa, you
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know. maybe he's not the person we thought he was. and that's been interesting to watch people's view of quinn change as he has frown. -- grown. if he can be told about he's 8 years old that he has no life, that he's not going to have any life at all and you see where he is today, it's just unbelievably heartening -- his story should be heartening to all parents because i never for a minute -- i mean, i have always believed in quinn. and i've always thought he was a magical person. >> most of the time. [laughter] >> but i'm not sure that i could have said that when he was 26 he would have a book and a website and he would be as accomplished and as articulate and as smart as he is. i'm not sure i would have believed that. >> a lot of these diagnosis are
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mistaken. i got a letter from this woman who said her kid will never be able to draw circles. and after she broke down in tears, the list went on and on and on. after she got herself together, she came back into the room and after the doctors left got a piece of paper and told him to draw circles. absolutely perfect. and now he is an artist. >> but there's so many great stories out there of kids who look like they were never going to make it and, you know, the teenage years are really hard but then suddenly they just sort of -- they blossom into these incredibly successful people and have great lives and i think that's the main thing. i mean, that's what i take away from quinn's book and from his website, just this enormous feeling of hope, and that's what i think other people should take from it, too.
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[inaudible] >> the more -- the years to come are the better years than the teenage life. [laughter] >> i used to tell quinn when he would get depressed and i'd say, look at this this way -- he not had all the learning problems but he also had the medical problems. he was in and out of children's hospital for 16 years. we practically lived there. i kept my toothbrush and my nightgown at children's hospital and i said, you know, you got all these problems now and by the time you get to be in your late 20s and early 30s you will be resilient and you will know how to deal with problems because you will have had everything wrong with you and everything that you could possibly imagine. and the golden boys and girls who have just sailed through life without a single problem, the cool kids, are going to be
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struggling because life hits you in the face and nobody gets a pass, you know? nobody gets a pass. and suddenly they're not going to be equipped to handle it the way you do because they're not going to have had the, you know, the strength and the courage to get through the things that you had. we've told him that. and i also said once -- i remember when college -- when it came time to go to college and all of his friends were getting into harvard and yale and princeton and brown and amherst and quinn was feeling really low, and i said, you know, well, they may be going to all these great schools but look at it this way, you have one thing that they don't have and that is you're learning disabled and look at it as a gift and it's something you can always have. you can take this and make something of it. you can -- you can use your gift of learning disability to help other people who have learning disabilities, and that will make
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you happier than almost anything in the world is knowing -- as having a life where you can help other people. and quinn agreed -- h-and i told the story the other day, actually, having a girlfriend makes me happier. [laughter] >> anyway, that's it. thank you very much. okay. [applause] >> in addition to having some books here that are for sale and i'm sure they will sign them for you, we do have one little thing because we also heard about the engagement and we're so happy for you and we just have a little cake that we wanted to share with everyone. >> there goes my diet. >> one more pound. what's that. there you go. >> thank you so much. >> so don't leave before cake and the books are here. >> and quinn's website is on the poster on the back and i believe that's the last lines from your book.
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it's above the website back there. they are pretty cool. thank you so much. >> quinn bradlee is the son of former "washington post" editor ben bradlee and author sally quinn. he attended the new york film academy and has made several short film documentaries on children with learning disabilities he lives in washington, d.c. to find out more information you can go to >> potomac books publishes redcots' revenge and the ultimate history of the 1812. we have the senior editor of potomic books. tell us about this one. >> this is an altered history of 1812. what would have happened if the british would have won and the author pausits they would have send over the best general to fight america and they would have occupied the white house
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and would have come through and america would have been a british colony so it's very meticulously documented. it's a thrilling story of what might have been and we've been very successful with alternate histories and counter-factual histories which are -- it seems like it should be part of the realm of science fiction but, in fact, what it is, it is a way to look at historical documents and think about how history might have been different. and so it opens up great questions and it's a great book for historians and people who just love to read history. >> besides the war of 1812, what other alternate histories have you published? >> we're about to do one on the cuban missile crisis and that'll be out next year and then we've -- we've done one on the revolutionary war called britannia fists. >> a new book that potomic is publishing, fruits of victory. >> that's one of my favorites. the woman's land army of america in the great war. it was in 1914, 1915, 1916,
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1917. the land army started in britain because there were food riots in france. and all the men were off fighting world war i in europe and there was a great food shortage and the united states -- women who were really organized in terms of women suffrage and temperance unions and all the way they organized became channeled into the war movement in supporting patriotism and supporting food. women said we could farm on the farms, we can do everything men can do and men will be free to go and fight. and a lot of men did not like this. a lot of farmers didn't like it. a lot of government people didn't like it but the women persevered and they picked cotton in georgia, they farmed in new england and new mexico and in california which already had the vote for women and elaine weiss is the author. she writes for the "christian science monitor," and the "new york times" and different
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newspapers and she has done terrific research all over the country and it's an amazing book. it's a really rediscovered bit of american history that people do not remember. >> and one more book we want to look at. counting every vote. the most contentious elections in american history. >> this is a fun book. and the two authors teach at george mason university and they are in politics. and this looks at every close election in american history from thomas jefferson to john adams all the way through bush and gore. and it in some ways it's almost like redcoats revenge in terms of what might have been if this election had gone differently. it's a great way to look at electoral history and it's a lot of fun and it's really accessible. >> tell us about potomic books. >> it's in dulles, virginia right by the airport. we're a trade publisher. we do military history and political history, current events and we do a lot of great st


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